Someone like me who’s bisexual – and out about it, a black woman, and an atheist – outspoken. Add some of the most unconventional activities and different genres of music [I enjoy hockey and listening to metal music] and you’ll have something outside of their ‘element’. Some of these characteristics were already well known among family and friends and they made fun of you for it. Calling you Oreo and confused; some even called you racist – you hated your own kind, you’re betraying black people, you need Jesus. But that is as far as it went. It was almost tolerable to take the verbal onslaught of who you are as a person. They’ll walk by on occasion and tell you that you need to be going to church and listening to gospel. They may even go to their church and talk about it among the congregation; after they see the ass kickings weren’t working on you or for their back. You never understood why they tried to beat you like the very slaves they made you do home reports about in the books they themselves couldn’t read. The only person not making a big deal out of it is you and for some reason, it’ll start bugging the fuck out of you. You get annoyed and come close to telling everyone in church about themselves. Especially Ms. Charolette, we know what she does with Deacon Brown in the bathroom downstairs while everyone is at the pew praying for whatever sin they committed last week. Every eye isn’t closed. You’ve walked in on Pastor Otis who is sometimes in compromising positions. Somehow, a few collection baskets never quite make it all the way home – or so you thought – they seem to get lost in Pastor Otis’ pockets. He always has that ‘deer caught in headlights’ gloss over his face. We don’t even want to get on the congregation, child! Oh, man! Ms. Davis’ daughter immediately got pregnant again and somehow it’s the devils fault and she needs to find her way back to Jesus! This is her fourth pregnancy when are you going to stop blaming the devil? Mr. Watley, he needs to stop messing around with all those young women; or at least, stop talking so loudly about his affairs when his wife is in the choir. The guys gossip just as much as the gals.
They’d be so mad. So you don’t let off on them because you value having a family more than value having a different opinion.
You remember as a child, all the times you sat under your moth-eaten blankets creating up stories for god and why he wasn’t around answering your prayers. Your grandmother is still calling you ugly and would be better off on your back; beating you when your big brother is caught on top of you. You remember asking god why was he punishing you. How did you end up around so many people who stopped caring when the dresses stopped looking as cute because now the girl wearing them can form her own opinion.
Who do you hate more at this point? Your family, or God? You don’t have anyone to ask these questions to. You can’t go to your family because they’d beat you for asking questions. So you’re stuck inside your own head for years because everyone around you is indoctrinated. You go along with it until you can’t take it anymore. Just when you thought you were an outcast already, your “family” proves you wrong…again. They tell the rest of the family to not talk to you. They try their damnedest to make you feel bad for being an atheist by kicking you and your son out on the street with no remorse. Yes, you’re an adult now and it seems like their hatred for anything different than them quadruples in intensity. They don’t give you a chance to get your things and just destroy your property and whatever else they didn’t destroy they sell or keep for themselves. So, you’re left with nothing and now have to start over…again.
You move on and reestablish yourself in another city, you haven’t talked to your family in almost a year. You decide against your best interest to one day call them. You reach out to them and of course, they need something from you and when you tell them no, they call you satan’s offspring and wish you’d burn in hell. Clearly, nothing has changed. They didn’t even lend a hand when your marriage failed. They were too busy telling themselves “I told her so”. Why did you expect anything different?
Your neighborhood friends now all grown up, they don’t understand. You can tell with the questions they ask: “Isn’t that a white thing?” You cringe every time you hear it. Soon thereafter, they stop talking to you and pretend they don’t see you. It finally gets backs to you that you’re “a stuck-up bitch that got a hold of voodoo spirits and now you’re being possessed by the devil”. Y’know, shit you thought you’d only hear in movies. Realizing that these people would rather believe a rumor than to get the truth, you’re fine dismissing the rest of your childhood. Let them be a distant memory of what was and is no longer. The fewer people in your life the better.
Everybody you date is religious and they oftentimes have more of a time accepting your atheism than you being bisexual. They somehow make up excuses for atheism. They blame it on your bisexuality. They tell you the very same thing every other black person in your life has told you: “It’s just a phase.” “You lost your way.” “You need to pray.” You’ve heard it all before. For some reason, outside of telling you what you need to do, they never tried to convert you and you never try to deconvert them. Showing their hypocrisy, sex outside of marriage seems to be fine with them. They didn’t mind putting Jesus to the side to have you in their arms. “This is ridiculous!” you say and decide that dating black men and women are going to forever be foolish, unequivocally devoted to something they half-ass believe in; will only use to as a means to control. You later find down the road find that not all of them are blind. Not all of them are brainwashed. There are those who can “believe in self” and not be two steps away from hoteppin’. You know this because you keep constantly running into them. It gives you hope. It’s refreshing.
More and more of us are coming out because, in one way or another, our family have already disowned us. Now, they don’t have much left to fear. If your own family hates you for who you are, you shouldn’t expect anything less from complete strangers. Yes, plan for the worst, but hope for the best. Sure.
While you let that be what gets you to sleep at night, we know better. Deep down, we know YOU know better. We learn about hate at a very young age. It’s second-nature to a lot of us.
For most, it’s easier to hate than to take the time to understand.